At first, the music of Birds of Prey shudders in a shivery, desolate dwelling populated only by a scattering of dry bones and a nest of primeval insects. Cold, calculating and brooding, like the icy stare of a hawk looking for its prey, the lone bass of “Black Vulture” thrums at regular intervals. A rising tension grips the air. The waiting game begins.
Only, nothing is resolved. Nothing is taken, and this cold uncertainty permanently settles over the music, hiding its features and its true intentions like a very mysterious mask. A shared fascination with the brutal and universally mysterious power of electricity has brought the trio of Birds of Prey together, and under this alias Grant Aaron, Eric Holmes and Camille Altay gather and explore the dark recesses of its persona with a tasteful, precise dissection, only to reveal a plethora of live electronic tones and experimental shadows nestled deep inside its skull. The music drags the listener to unsettling places that were previously only thought of as buried myths. Science can explain a lot of things, but music (mu being an ancient word for ‘mother’ and sic an abbreviation for the word ‘science’ – music, the mother of all sciences) explains everything. The razor-sharp jolt of the voltage will at any time illuminate anything within sight of the music, and the intensity could crumble even the strongest foundation.
This channeled energy converts into music as the live electronics filter into the air. Dark grooves pulsate and crawl, and despite a pretty dark tone the shadows never entirely coat the album in its growing black light. The darkness lives in subtlety. Dark and malign synths radiate through the music; clattering drums that are almost tribal in tone and in rhythm sink into the density of the music’s quicksand. Synths – the sound that is somehow both retro and futuristic – are the perfect musical tool to light the way for this particular torch. They are always abuzz, electrically charged, and they work their way, snake-like, through the music and, in a musical sense, they perhaps best represent the flux and the flow of intermittent and stable electrical currents. In fact, the synths are more like snakes than birds of prey, as the cobra-like fangs sink into the music and the pythons squeeze through a network of claustrophobic tunnels. The album as a whole is relatively short, but it’s also accompanied by three suitably dark remixes (the first and the last are slightly more propulsive and beat-driven, and the other track drags the music, its prey, into an experimental cave). Tightly controlled experiments they may be – they have to be when you’re dealing with something as dangerous and as life-threatening as electricity – but the electronics have Eagle-sharp claws. For now, they sit and stare, but they’re always ready to spread their wings and use their predator’s instincts to catch their prey. (James Catchpole)